Monday 18 January 2016

Over Halfway, And Top Of The League

Let’s face it, it probably should be slightly better than this, we should be a few points clear at the top of the league. In an ordinary season, the title winners at this stage, having the opportunities to build a gap probably would have. 3-2 up at Liverpool and not holding on, a draw at Norwich, a loss against West Ham, a draw against Spurs, losing to West Brom having missed a last minute penalty and losing to a poor Chelsea side (even if we did have ten men) were all opportunities to increase the gap at the top.

 That’s all good and well in a ‘ordinary season’ and we probably should have got better results in some of those games but looking at the league, these games are now becoming ‘ordinary’ and maybe, this is how a normal season will pan out and going forward, teams will drop points more regularly and we will see surprise packages such as Leicester more and more.

As football supporters, we naturally focus on the negatives but forget how we held on to beat Palace away from home 1-2 or the one goal victory against Newcastle (home and away!), or the character we showed at home to City when there was only one goal in it for the last ten minutes. We have gone to Leicester and won (City Drew, United Drew, Chelsea lost) and got a point at Stoke (City, United and Chelsea all lost there as do Arsenal…normally). We forget how we beat Manchester United at home in such a convincing fashion or how we demolished Watford and Swansea in the second half after an average first.

It seems like a ‘Southampton away’ or a ‘West Brom away’ will happen from time to time but changing the ‘time to time’ losses into draws actually represents a good result – a point at Stoke is a good result. The Liverpool result was highly frustrating and annoying but looking at the bigger picture, we haven’t done an ‘Arsenal’ too often this season by conceding late on (something it felt like we used to do every other week in seasons past!) 

To win the league, you can afford to have the odd bad result, but you must limit them. It looks like this season’s champions will lose at least six games. It may seem like a lot and questions and debates about the quality of the Premier League may start up, but Arsenal lost six games in the 97/98 campaign but won the league. They did however, only lose 3 in 2001/2002 and off course none in 2003/2004.

Two points from two games normally isn’t great and in truth, being 3-2 up with a few minutes to go should have resulted in four points from two games but it’s when you look deeper, you rethink if 2/6 was a good return. Arsenal’s record at home is pretty impressive since the opening day of the season, Manchester City’s away record isn’t great – their win at Watford was their first win on the road since the start of September. Arsenal played the last two games away and Manchester City were at home. In truth, I was expecting Manchester City to win both but they only managed 4/6 points – they dropped points against Everton at home.

Let’s be clear – there is a long way to go and our away trips are TOUGH! We still need to go to United, City and Spurs to name a few but are roughly where we wanted to be. A mate of mine who supports Liverpool thought they had a shot at the title purely because they have been to most top clubs already and play all their big games at home; but one thing he forgot to mention was that you need to actually beat the big teams at home and that is something we have managed to do and have another opportunity to do it on Sunday against Chelsea and this is the reason why we lead the race rather than sit in seventh.

The title is there to be won and Arsenal are bang in the race – they just need to last the distance and get a bit of a second wind and that is very possible with the return of Alexis Sanchez and co.

A week off for us supporters then we go again!

Up the Arsenal.

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